Our society follows many rituals – some of them are quite understandable and some are followed blindly. Our weddings are a perfect example of it. Some rituals are so rudimentary that you couldn’t stop but wonder why our society still follows them.
One such ritual is how some traditional conservative families expect single moms to stand in a corner while marriage rituals are performed by uncle and aunt. Because as per the custom, a single mother cannot marry off her daughter by herself – the patriarch (a male head) needs to be present.
As a result, even after raising kids throughout their lives single moms usually play little or no part in their kids’ weddings. Sadly in place of her, close family members end up performing the rituals. But with changing times, it is amazing how many single moms and daughters are coming forward to change this rudimentary thought process.
Although the ritual itself, called ‘kanyadaanam’, is patriarchal in nature, this courageous mom-daughter duo challenged the norms by doing it in their own special way.
While speaking with HoB, the daughter spoke about her mother’s great sacrifice and how this duo chose to break the norms:
“My abusive father left me and Amma when I was 12. Amma always wanted to become a doctor– before marriage, Appa had promised her that he’d let her study, but he refused after. I still get flashes of him hitting Amma– once, he struck her so hard that she lost 50% of her eyesight in one eye.
Amma tolerated all of it only because she was afraid that he’d take me away from her. But 10 years in, she knew that she’d have to support me on her own at some point, so she decided to move to Russia to pursue her education– she left me in the care of my Mama-Mami; every 3 months, she’d visit.
But behind her back, Appa cheated on her and used up her savings. When Amma found out, she was worried for me– she discontinued her course and flew back. But before she arrived, Appa left for Hyderabad– that was the last time I saw him.
I felt very guilty– because of me, Amma had to sacrifice her dreams. But she didn’t even bat an eyelid– she got herself a job in a reputed firm. On most days, she worked overtime; I’d be asleep by the time she got home. For years, this was our life.
After having watched everything that Amma had gone through, I subconsciously knew what to look out for in a partner. So the first thing I noticed about Aben when we started speaking was that he was the opposite of my father– honest and big-hearted. Even when Aben met Amma for the first time, she loved him and in 2017, we decided to get married.
But Aben’s family had reservations because I’m a Tamil Brahmin and he’s Christian. Amma went to Kerala to meet his parents to convince them. When that didn’t work, she told us, ‘If you both are happy, I’ll get you married.’ In a heartbeat she said she’d spend her savings on our wedding. But eventually, Aben’s parents came around.
While planning, I found out that in Tam Bram weddings, traditionally, the bride is seated on her father’s lap during the Kanyadaan. A relative suggested that I sit on my Mama’s lap, but I objected– all my life, Amma had been both a father and a mother. So, if somebody had the right to perform my Kanyadaan, it was her.
About 5 priests rejected us and the idea; it wasn’t ‘right’ according to our culture. I didn’t relent. It took a few weeks, but we found a priest who agreed to let Amma give me away. During the Kanyadaan, Amma and I looked at each other; we broke down– she hugged me and ruffled my hair. It was our moment. It’s the least amount of respect I could have given her for all she’s done and everything she’s been through– she’s a survivor, a warrior, my protector; my Amma.”
Some time back, a beautiful story went viral when a single mother refused to let society bow her down to the regressive rituals. She didn’t let anyone else do the ‘Kanyadaan‘ of her daughter other than her. The picture of this beautiful marriage went viral in no time. You can read their full story here.
At IFORHER, we are in awe of these inspiring mother-daughter duo who are shattering the patriarchal norms and creating a beautiful life for themselves and the generations to come!